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Robo Tripping: Sippin’ Lean For White People?

Submitted by on November 24, 2010 – 8:28 am3 Comments

Young people have been experimenting with it for years, but its rise in popularity in recent years has been reason enough to coin a new name for the activity of drinking cough syrup for recreational use—Robo Tripping.

Dextromethorphan (DXM), an active ingredient found in many cough suppressant cold medicines, is now commonly used as a recreational drug amongst suburban teenagers. While having almost no psychoactive effects at medically-recommended doses, DXM has euphoric, psychedelic and dissociative properties when administered in middle to high doses (vivid imagination, hallucinations—even temporary psychosis). The name “robo tripping” comes from Robitussin, one of the cough syrup brands used most regularly for the high.

While robo tripping is the new rage for the mainstream, we in hip-hop know that “lean,” “sizzurp” or “purple drank” has been a recreational drug popular in the southern United States (particularly Texas) for many years. Sizzurp’s main ingredient is prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine, typically mixed with ingredients such as Sprite or Mountain Dew and pieces of Jolly Rancher candy. While often glamorized by rappers like Three 6 Mafia, Paul Wall, Lil Wayne and even Kanye West, many users have reported the large amount of sugar in sizzurp has caused them to experience weight gain, tooth decay and other medical symptoms. On an even deeper level, the deaths of DJ Screw (who popularized the drink) and UGK rapper Pimp C were both attributed in part to codeine use.

No legal distinction currently exists in the United States between medical and recreational use, sale, or purchase of cough syrup. Some states and/or store chains have implemented restrictions, such as requiring signatures for DXM sale, limiting quantities allowable for purchase, and requiring purchasers to be over the age of majority in their state. Due to its recreational use (and the fact users have be known to steal the product off shelves) many drug stores have moved DXM-containing medicine behind their counters, with some requiring the purchaser to be 18 years and over.

There are countless videos on YouTube about “robo tripping”—this one is particularly disturbing, of a young woman apparently trying it for the first time:

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